Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

As many as 6%

of people in the US suffer from BDP.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that is characterized by intense mood fluctuations, unstable relationships, and difficulties in emotional regulation. Individuals with BPD face an increased risk of self-destructive behavior and suicide. The most effective intervention for BPD is talk therapy, sometimes supplemented with medications. Read on to discover how you can connect with treatment for borderline personality disorder – you do not need to suffer alone or in silence.

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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder involves dramatic mood swings, volatile interpersonal relationships, and impulsivity. Those with BPD often experience a profound fear of abandonment, struggle with anger management, and engage in impulsive and risky actions like reckless driving and self-harm threats, affecting their ability to maintain relationships.

One of four cluster B personality disorders, BPD is associated with erratic and dramatic behaviors that lead to chronic dysfunctional behavior patterns, causing distress and social difficulties. Many individuals with BPD remain unaware of their condition and unaware that healthier behavioral and relational alternatives exist.

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Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder are categorized into nine major aspects for diagnostic purposes. To receive a BPD diagnosis, at least five borderline personality disorder criteria must present, impacting multiple aspects of life:

Fear of abandonment

Individuals with BPD often fear abandonment, leading to desperate efforts to prevent it, which can inadvertently push people away.

Unstable relationships

BPD leads to intense but short-lived relationships with rapid shifts between idealization and devaluation.

Shifting self-image

BPD results in an unstable self-concept, causing changes in jobs, relationships, values, and identity.

Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors

BPD individuals may engage in harmful actions like reckless driving or substance abuse as impulsive responses to distress.


Signs of borderline personality disorder may include suicidal tendencies, gestures, threats, or non-suicidal self-harm like cutting.

Extreme emotional swings

BPD involves rapid and intense mood shifts, which are relatively short-lived compared to episodes of depression or bipolar disorder.

Chronic feelings of emptiness

Individuals with BPD often feel a persistent inner void, attempting to fill it with substances or behaviors.

Explosive anger

BPD can lead to intense anger, with difficulty in anger management, sometimes directed inwardly.

Suspicion and dissociation

BPD can cause paranoid thoughts and dissociation, leading to feeling detached from reality, especially during stress.

Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder

Although bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder share mood fluctuations, they are separate conditions.

In BPD, mood and behavior swiftly shift due to stress, especially in social interactions. In bipolar disorder, by contrast, mood changes are more prolonged and less responsive, accompanied by noticeable alterations in energy and activity levels that are not as prominent in BPD.

Persistent sadness

Individuals with depression often experience an overpowering feeling of sadness or emptiness. This emotional state may seem unshakable, making it challenging to find joy or happiness in things that once brought pleasure.

Loss of interest or pleasure (anhedonia)

One of the hallmark symptoms of depression is anhedonia, where the person loses interest or pleasure in activities they used to enjoy. Hobbies, social interactions, or favorite pastimes may no longer hold the same appeal, contributing to a sense of disconnection from life.

Changes in appetite or weight

Depression can influence appetite, leading to significant changes in eating habits. Some individuals may experience increased cravings and overeats, resulting in weight gain, while others may have a reduced appetite and experience weight loss.

Sleep disturbances

Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) are common sleep disturbances associated with depression. Insomnia may manifest as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, or waking and being unable to fall back asleep.

Fatigue and low energy

Feeling persistently tired or experiencing a lack of energy, even after adequate rest, is a common symptom of depression. Tasks that were once manageable may become overwhelming and exhausting.

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

Depression can lead to a profound sense of worthlessness or excessive guilt over perceived shortcomings or past mistakes. These feelings may be irrational and disproportionate to the circumstances.

Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

Depression can impair cognitive function, making it challenging to concentrate, focus, or make decisions. Memory may also be affected, making it harder to recall information or follow through with tasks.

Physical aches and pains

Some people with depression may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle pain, or other unexplained bodily discomforts.

Thoughts of death or suicide

In severe cases, individuals with depression may have recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, seek immediate help from a mental health professional or a helpline.

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If you have been feeling any of these symptoms, and you are in need of help, please give our friendly team a call.

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Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

Historically, treating BPD has presented challenges, but modern evidence-based borderline personality disorder treatments are associated with:

  • Reduced symptoms
  • Enhanced functionality
  • Improved quality of life


Successful therapy for borderline personality disorder requires time, dedication, and patience, often involving psychotherapy, medications, or both.

In cases of extreme distress or self-harm risk, brief hospitalization might be indicated, enabling collaborative treatment planning. Co-occurring mental health issues are common among those with BPD, including:

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sleeping disorders

Treating these conditions is equally important.

Psychotherapy, informally known as talk therapy, is the primary treatment approach for BPD, aiming to explore underlying motivations and fears, as well as promoting positive interpersonal connections. Various borderline personality disorder therapies can effectively address the condition. These include:

  • DBT (dialectical behavior therapy)
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Group therapy
  • ST (schema therapy)
  • MBT (mentalization-based therapy)
  • TFP (transference-focused psychotherapy)
  • Medications
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DBT (dialectical behavior therapy)
Originally created to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT combines acceptance of reality and behavior change. It equips individuals with skills to manage emotions, reduce self-destructive behavior, and enhance relationships.

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
Structured and goal-oriented, CBT focuses on analyzing thoughts and emotions, modifying negative patterns, and promoting healthier thinking and behavior.

Group therapy
Conducted under professional guidance, group therapy aids BPD individuals in constructive interaction and effective self-expression.

ST (schema therapy)
Schema therapy, conducted individually or in groups, aids in identifying unmet needs that have shaped detrimental life patterns originating from past survival mechanisms. This therapy facilitates healthy need fulfillment, fostering positive life trajectories.

MBT (mentalization-based therapy)
MBT is a form of talk therapy that fosters self-awareness of thoughts and emotions, enabling a nuanced perspective on situations. MBT encourages reflective thinking before reacting.

TFP (transference-focused psychotherapy)
Transference-focused psychotherapy is a psychodynamic approach that delves into understanding emotions and relationship challenges within the therapeutic dynamic. Insights gained are applied to real-life scenarios to enhance coping and interactions.

Although medications are not typically the mainstay for BPD treatment due to limited evidence of their efficacy, they might be considered for managing specific symptoms or coexisting mental health conditions. Borderline personality disorder medication can target anxiety, depression, mood swings, and impulsive behaviors. Some individuals with BPD also find benefit from antipsychotic drugs.

Borderline Personality Disorder FAQ

What is borderline personality disorder splitting?

Borderline personality disorder splitting refers to a symptom where individuals with BPD tend to view things, including people, as all good or all bad, leading to intense shifts in emotions and relationships.

How do I get tested for borderline personality disorder?

There is no specific borderline personality disorder test. Instead, mental health professionals conduct clinical assessment, considering patterns of behavior, emotions, and relationships, often over an extended period.

What causes borderline personality disorder?

The exact cause of borderline personality disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors, such as childhood trauma or disrupted attachments.

Is borderline personality disorder treatable?

Yes, borderline personality disorder is treatable. Therapies like DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), and medication can help manage symptoms and improve overall functioning, although results may vary from person to person.

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Get Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder at Connections

Borderline personality disorder can be a disruptive condition, but with expert guidance and personalized mental health treatment, it is possible to improve functioning and overall well-being. We can help you initiate this process at Connections Mental Health in Southern California.

We designed our beachside facility to be as welcoming as a home. Our committed team of highly experienced professionals is dedicated to delivering cutting-edge care that blends holistic and science-based treatments, with at least two staff members present at all times.

Whether you or someone you know is grappling with a personality disorder, find stability, serenity, and support at Connections Mental Health. Call admissions today at 844-413-0009 for more information and immediate assistance.

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